“Many Christians think of sports as having little to no value. They see the time, money, devotion, and energy that many put into sports as time, money, devotion, and energy that could be better used for the sake of the kingdom of God. But can we think about sports, and be involved in them, in ways that build the kingdom? Yes! To do this, however, will require that we approach sports in ways that are often countercultural. Not only can we approach sports with a kingdom mindset, we must do so. The cultural influence of sports at all levels, including elite sports, is felt across the world. Anyone interested in doing cultural apologetics would do well to consider how to think about and participate in the world of sport, as a Christian. Many cultural apologists spend considerable time and effort understanding other influential aspects of culture, including movies, television, books, and politics. But sports are also a reflection of our culture, and an influence upon it, for better and for worse.

Many cultural issues arise in sports, and are discussed by well-known athletes who use their platforms to do so. Whether it is equal pay for equal work, issues related to race and justice, politics, sexual ethics, abortion—and many others—numerous professional athletes make their views known via social media and other outlets, influencing the culture. Christians should not ignore this.

There is great potential for sports to contribute to human flourishing, as Christians understand it. Sports can build good character, including specifically Christian virtues like faith, hope, love, and humility.  Even those who have little interest in sports would do well to develop a Christian understanding of sports at their best, as well as a thoughtful and helpful critique of the ways in which the actual world of sports falls short of the Christian ideal. Followers of Christ can bring light into the dark corners of the sporting world, and they can celebrate the parts of that world that are already shining examples of what human beings can do as they seek to glorify God in this realm of life.”

This Postmodern Realities episode is a conversation with Journal author Michael W. Austin about his online-exclusive article “Taking the Long View: A Christian Approach to Youth Sports.”

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